Analysis of the President's Budget

Posted on
June 16, 2009

CBO has updated its analysis of the policy proposals contained in the Presidents budget to incorporate details on some of the proposals that were made available with the release of the Presidents full budget proposal on May 7th.

The results of CBOs updated analysis are similar to those released in March. CBO now estimates a 10-year deficit of $9.1 trillion under the Presidents policiesabout $130 billion lower than it estimated three months ago (a difference of about 1.4 percent of the cumulative deficit over the period). That difference reflects the details of the proposals and some technical changes in CBOs estimates of the proposals. As with the March report, this analysis incorporates revenue estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). CBO has not updated its baseline budget projections or its economic forecast since the preliminary analysis of the Presidents budget was released in March.

CBOs and the Administrations estimates of the Presidents policies are very similar for 2009, but CBOs estimate of the deficit over the next 10 years is $2 trillion higher. Most of that gap results from underlying differences in the two baselines.

Under the presidents policies, the deficit in 2009 would total $1.8 trillion and equal 13.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), CBO estimates. In 2010, the deficit would measure 9.9 percent of GDP, or $1.4 trillion, CBO estimates. The cumulative deficit over the 20102019 period would equal $9.1 trillion (5.2 percent of GDP), more than double the cumulative deficit projected under the current-law assumptions embodied in CBOs March baseline. As a result, debt held by the public would rise from 57 percent of GDP in 2009 to 82 percent of GDP by 2019.

Under current law, revenues would grow from 15.5 percent of GDP in 2009 to 19.9 percent of GDP in 2013. Much of the projected increase in revenues occurs because of the expiration of certain provisions of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Under the Presidents proposals, revenues would grow somewhat less quickly and would remain near 19.0 percent beyond 2013, slightly above the average over the past 40 years of 18.3 percent. However, they would be about $2.0 trillion lower than the revenues projected under current law over the 20102019 period. Of that amount, modifying and extending provisions of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would have the largest effect.

Outlays under the Presidents policies would fall as a percentage of GDP over the next few years, from 28.5 percent in 2009 to 22.6 percent in 2012, after which they would begin rising largely because of climbing health care spending and increasing debt-service costs, reaching 24.5 percent in 2019well above the average of 20.7 percent over the past 40 years. Those figures are virtually unchanged from what CBO estimated under the Presidents initial budget request in March.

CBO has also analyzed how the Presidents proposals would affect the economy (and then, indirectly, the budget). Estimates of economic effects depend on many specific assumptions, so CBOs analysis used a number of different models of economic behavior and the structure of the economy.

The Presidents proposals would raise the level of output by between 0.8 percent and 1.0 percent, on average over the 2010 to 2014 period, CBO estimates. Those estimates incorporate both supply-side effects (influences on the economys potential output) and demand-side effects (temporary movements of output relative to its potential level). The models that CBO used to estimate those overall economic effects are not well-suited to projecting the effects of changes in demand beyond five years. However, CBO also estimated the supply- side effects alone, employing a wider variety of models for which projections can be extended over a longer period. For a range of plausible assumptions, the supply-side effects of the Presidents proposals would imply output from 2015 to 2019 that is, on average, 0.3 percent to 1.9 percent below the baseline level.